The results of various studies suggest that victims of childhood sexual abuse rarely see justice done to their attackers. The reasons for this are as sad as they are complex. Very young victims may not understand that they have been abused, may be afraid of speaking up, or may simply lack the vocabulary to express what has happened. Abusers may be otherwise trusted friends or family members who escape discovery by carefully maintaining a veneer of respectability. But when victims grow up they do not need to accept what happened to them when they were young without fighting back.
Nevada is one of many states that has adopted a special statute of limitations for civil lawsuits brought against perpetrators of childhood sexual abuse. Statutes of limitations set strict deadlines by which a lawsuit must be filed to be valid. For many civil causes of action, like negligence, Nevada’s statute of limitations is two years from the time the plaintiff knew about his or her injury.
In recognition of the special nature of childhood sexual abuse, Nevada has extended the statute of limitations that applies to causes of action that arise from it. Under NRS 11.215, a victim of childhood sexual abuse must file a civil suit within the later of twenty years of reaching the age of 18, or within 20 years of discovering that an injury, such as psychological trauma, was caused by the abuse. This latter provision provides recourse for individuals who only recall their abuse through the assistance of a therapist.
Nevada law defines “sexual abuse” broadly. In addition to the sort of behavior that need not be described, it includes behavior that is done “with the intent of arousing, appealing to, or gratifying the lust or passions or sexual desires of [the] person.” NRS 201.230(1)(a). The laws governing sexual abuse are criminal statutes, meaning that the perpetrator may be prosecuted and sent to prison for an extended period if convicted. Unfortunately, in many instances the lack of evidence makes criminal prosecution less likely.
Even if prosecutors do not pursue a case the victim of childhood sexual assault should consider filing a civil lawsuit. Quite often the victim has suffered a range of long-term psychological consequences following the abuse, for which they should be compensated. To recover damages in civil court a victim of sexual abuse must be able to show by clear and convincing evidence that the abuse occurred.
For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has helped injured clients recover compensation. We understand that childhood sexual abuse is a complex and difficult topic. Our firm is committed to providing every client with personal, caring attention. Call us today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or reach us through our contact page.